Lightweight standout Charles Oliveira is holding out for a shot at the UFC lightweight title, according to a recent report.
Oliveira, who’s won his past eight octagon bouts and is ranked No. 3 in the promotion’s top-15 at 155 pounds, turned down a non-title fight against Michael Chandler at UFC 258, per AG Fight.
Oliveira’s coach, Diego Lima, told Sherdog.com that the short-notice nature of the fight and its stakes motivated the decision to decline.
“Charles had never been so close to the belt and it’s important to note that he worked hard for that,” Lima said. “The fans and even Poirier recognized that. Today is Feb. 1. It makes no sense for us to accept a title eliminator for 11 days from now.
“Charles needs time to lose weight, we lose about two days with visa stuff and of course we need to prepare for the fight itself. Our goal was fight for the belt against Poirier, but if Poirier will not fight for the belt and the UFC wants to make the Chandler fight for the belt, no problem.”
Chandler on Monday told ESPN.com he’d agreed to face an unnamed top-ranked opponent – whom he declined to name – at the Feb. 13 pay-per-view event, which takes place at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The former Bellator champ debuted in the octagon this past month at UFC 257, where he knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round. Afterward, he called out Khabib Nurmagomedov for a title shot.
UFC 258 took a hit earlier this month when ex-middleweight champ Chris Weidman tested positive for COVID-19 and was scratched from a bout with Uriah Hall.
Nurmagomedov remains the UFC lightweight champ despite announcing his retirement after unifying the title at UFC 254 with a submission of Justin Gaethje. UFC President Dana White has indicated Nurmagomedov won’t hold up the division, but has yet to strip the undefeated fighter of the belt.
There’s been heated speculation on the challengers for the vacant lightweight title since Chandler’s impressive debut and Dustin Poirier’s knockout of Conor McGregor in the headliner of UFC 257. Poirier has been linked to a possible trilogy with McGregor, a rebooked fight with Nate Diaz and potential fights against Chandler or Oliveira.
After his win, Poirier suggested Oliveira is a worthy candidate for a title shot – and also guaranteed he wouldn’t fight Chandler. Recently, though, called himself the uncrowned champ and suggested Chandler and Oliveira should fight for the belt.
“I want to be the world champion, and Charles is a guy that’s paid his dues,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “He’s earned where he’s at, no doubt about it. Let him and Chandler fight for the belt. If they want Chandler in there for the title, and he’s calling for the title, let them fight for the belt. I’ll take a step back and just watch.”
Oliveira recently told MMA Fighting that a fight with Poirier is the logical choice for the UFC lightweight title.
“Dustin Poirier himself said this is the fight to make,” the Brazilian said. “I’m coming off eight straight wins, and I’m not playing games in the division, and he knows that.
“What’s left? There’s nowhere to go. The UFC gave me Tony Ferguson on 20 days’ notice, ‘The Boogeyman,’ and you all saw what happened. They put Dustin Poirier against Conor McGregor – everybody knows how important [McGregor] is for the promotion – and look what Dustin Poirier did. Don’t we deserve this title fight? This is the fight to make.”
Lima said Oliveira’s resume warrants extra consideration in making it happen.
“All champions have two or three months to make a camp to get ready,” he said. “We already did crazy stuff like accept Clay Guida in 10 days and Tony Ferguson in 20, but I think that for all Charles has done, he deserves to have a full camp to fight for that title.”